Pioneer of Maltese punk scene, Eric il-Punk, passes away

Abstrass singer Eric Azzopardi – more commonly known as Eric il-Punk – passed away on Sunday

The anarchist: Eric il-Punk had one of the most recognisable Mohican hairstyles
The anarchist: Eric il-Punk had one of the most recognisable Mohican hairstyles

One of Malta’s punk rock pioneers, Eric Azzopardi – more commonly known as Eric il-Punk – passed away on Sunday. He was 55. 

He formed the punk band Abstrass in 1979, two years after “becoming fascinated” with punk. “It was great music. I loved it. I loved rock, and I was a Lou Reed fan. But when I heard The Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The UK, the scene took off for me,” he had said in a rare interview on TVM. 

Abstrass
Abstrass

Abstrass rehearsed in the legendary rooms inside Fort Tigné, which Eric said he had found disused after the British forces left the island. The congregation of bands inside the rooms led to the government to grant the area to bands for rehearsal rooms.

He styled himself as an anarchist, but Azzopardi was also a believer in God. “Were it not for God, I would not be here...” he had said in an interview in 2013. “25 years ago my life was a mess.” 

In concert
In concert

Various tributes on Facebook described Eric as “an icon of punk” - PN candidate Michael Briguglio, whose musical career included playing drums for Norm Rejection, saluted Eric by “thanking him for all the fun”.

The music producer and star of X Factor Malta, Howard Keith Debono, said Eric was a local legend and a very kind man. “I’m sure there are a number of people on my page who remember when we used to meet up next to the kiosk in Valletta on that 'wall’ in the 80s; those who know the band Abstrass, the Tigné days and all those who supported the punk scene must have surely crossed paths with Eric at some point in time.”

Fakawi guitarist Pawlu Borg Bonaci said Eric was “one of the kindest persons I have ever met. RIP you anarchist, you.” 

On the Abstrass tribute page on Facebook, Eric was described as “strong in your ideal, brave as you fought all the obstacles in life, very caring for the family and friends, ready to go out of your way to help. You were always positive, even when the sky looked grey. Now the physical journey is over, and you’ll start a spiritual voyage through eternity... You will be missed but never forgotten.”

Azzopardi leaves to mourn his wife and two children.

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